Adventure Story Class

February 16, 2012

I’m so excited about the class I’m teaching at our homeschool co-op this semester!

I was inspired by the collaborative storytelling my kids have been doing for years.   They create characters, a world for them to live in and share in dreaming up storylines for them.  The girls are both busy writing and drawing their own versions of the stories they create.

Several of the moms at co-op had mentioned that some of the kids had difficulty writing.  It was no surprise to hear that these same kids tended to avoid it whenever possible.  That got my gears turning and I hatched a plan for an adventure story class.

It wasn’t easy to explain my idea to the moms at the planning meeting.  It’s part collaborative story, part board game, part arts & crafts and a tiny bit creative writing class.  From the confused looks on their faces, I’m guessing my unbridled enthusiasm was the only reason they agreed to let me teach it.  😛

Each class I spend a couple of minutes talking about some aspect of creative writing.  The first week we talked about creating characters.   We discussed the difference between round and flat characters and when it was best to use each type.  We looked at all kinds of character traits and talked about how character flaws can drive the story.

Other topics we’ll cover during our 8 sessions include ways to describe the setting and physical environment, elements of plot, what makes an ending satisfying, how characters grow and develop in a story and how to publish a story.

The second part of class we work on an activity or craft project.   Last session they created a character on paper.  Today they made a physical representation of their character with little wooden peg people.  This will also double as their game piece when we get to that part.  Next week we’ll be building the 3D game board complete with scenery elements.

For the last part of each class we tell the story and play the game.  The first week I wrote a short fiction piece which allowed them to participate by saying what their character would do at various points in the story.  Sometimes I go around the room to ask each child what their character would do.  Other times, I use the traits they chose for their characters to decide who drives that part of the story.  I also throw in a bit of chance to mix things up.   Each child has a foam die they can roll to settle trait ties or  just decide who’ll get to speak first.

As the weeks go on I won’t need a fully written piece of fiction.  The kids will be free to make choices about what they’ll do within the confines of the world I’ve created.  The game part helps define these limitations and gives the characters extra challenges to work through to enrich the story.  The characters will have to work together to deal with those challenges and solve a mystery/puzzle/find a resolution/win the game/end the story.   (See?  Clear as mud!)

I’ve made a point of telling the kids that the point is to use their imaginations and have fun.  I don’t require them to write *anything*.    And what they do write is not collected, graded, corrected or shared unless they want to.

But guess what?  Most of the kids brought a whole page of writing to class today.  Even some those kids that avoid writing.  And the ones who didn’t have anything written?  They had simply forgotten and were genuinely disappointed about that.  I had moms tell me how their kids could not wait to get home and write about their characters.

Today in class I gave them a chance to jot down what their character would do at a particular point in the story.  I gave them 3 minutes.  I’ve never seen pens move so fast.

I can’t wait to see how this story ends 🙂



One Response to “Adventure Story Class”

  1. Cammie Says:

    LOL – You crack me up! Your previous post was a diatribe against fiction. Now you’re teaching how to write it! Haha =)

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